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"I felt like a superhero."
Jim Saint Germain (JSG) and Carlos Walton (CW)
JSG: Your house was organized and clean and you had pictures of black leaders and you were the first man ever who told me that you loved me. And I remember telling you that back, and I remember feeling awkward. Where I’m from we don’t tell other men that we loved them. That was big.
JSG: You go hard for those of us who no one else really wants to deal with. Where does that love come from?
CW: For one, I am that group. You know? And I remember being told that couldn’t get a recommendation for college. I remember hearing people like me don’t belong here.
JSG: Same for me.
CW: But I knew better thank God. You remember when you started to see some hope? When you were talking about doing football? And then your hand was hurt, and–
JSG: Broke my wrist–
CW: You asked the doctor, ‘Well what about football?’
CW: And he kinda like laughed. ‘Oh no, that won’t happen.’ I remember you looking crushed after that.
CW: That’s when I started to lose you. You weren’t about school. You weren’t about trying anymore. When you started to get into the whole drug game. I remember trying to talk to you but you weren’t hearing me at all.
JSG: Right. I think it was one time where it really kinda hit me. I was on the corner, and you happened to stop at the red light and I was right there.
CW: I just wanted to pull over. I wanna grab you. I wanna talk to you. But I couldn’t let you feel you could live that life and still have me on your team.
JSG: You kinda just waved at me and I was like, damn.
CW: And I remember driving away. I remember that shit hurt like hell.
CW: Like they say, you supposed to let a bird fly away and if come back to you then it’s yours?
CW: But leaving that bird, and knowing how much you love that bird? Bruh you gotta understand now–that was not easy. But now to see you go from where you were makes the whole full circle part just that much more beautiful. I remember when you had your son.
JSG: You had him in your hand and you were holding him. I think the best thing I have in my life is knowing that if anything happens to me today…he’s gonna have you. You can’t buy that.
CW: When were you most proud of yourself?
JSG: I would have to say graduation. I remember I got dressed in my button ups. I bought some shoes and these are all things I learned from you. You know? I put my cap and gowns on and, and people were seeing me. And you know where I came from.
CW: I know.
JSG: So you can imagine what the look was like in that neighborhood where you don’t see too many of that.
CW: Not at all.
JSG: And I remember I felt like a superhero. But I was by myself, no family members just me, and I remember feeling hurtful about that too. But I knew that you were going to be there, and to me that’s family.
Anthony Merkerson and Charles Jones
Two fathers of children on the autistic spectrum talk about the concerns they have for their sons—two young black men growing up with autism.
StoryCorps EXTRA: Listen More
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StoryCorps is America’s oral history project. Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected more than 60,000 interviews with over 100,000 participants from all backgrounds -- the largest single collection of human voices ever gathered.
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